Weeks leading up to and including Sunday morning worship, March 1, 2015:
For some months now, worship for me has meant sitting in the Lord’s presence, not singing, not praying, just resting, the eyes of my heart lifted up to Him, waiting for whatever He chooses to give, whether something small, something large, or nothing at all. I want only what He wants to give me.
This is the season I am in, nothing more, nothing less, and I won’t make more of it than that. He has me in this place for reasons known only to Him, but with a few that I do understand. Sitting in His presence, waiting on Him, has brought me much closer to Him, much more able to respond to Him, to hear Him, to embrace Him. And the closer I’m getting to Him, the more I’m experiencing His love for me, the less other things matter, the less affected I am by trials.
And this morning, while thinking about our trials, I saw more clearly than ever that He uses them to reveal His love and provision. The greater the trial, the greater the revelation of His care for us (James 1:2-4).
The most recent trial, and one of the most severe, began two weeks ago when the roof collapsed at the building that held our place of business. All at once, in an instant, our vocation and livelihood was thrown into disarray, and we entered a whirlwind of change that continues to this day.
And it has been a whirlwind – waiting for the authorities to shore up the building so we could go back in, packing, calling movers, moving, filling and emptying the dumpster, sending changes of address, writing a newsletter, updating the website, negotiating with the landlord, chasing down money, calling the insurance company, the sign company, the bank, shutting down utilities, starting up utilities, every day a mix of confusion, stress, physical exhaustion and reacting to the unexpected.
Yet, with all that this crisis has brought, I see countless evidences of His guidance and control. The roof collapsed on the other side of the building, not on ours. None of our inventory, supplies or artwork was damaged by the building failure. We received just the right amount of help packing and moving. Even the money we have needed has come in just when we needed it.
Early on, our pastor had a word that we would get help from an unanticipated source. The next day we received a call out of the blue from a man offering the space in his building if we had the need. This space turned out to be perfect for our business, right down to the price, so we took it.
Through it all, I have had an abiding peace that all will be well. Though I have had my moments of weakness (cussing at the frozen lock on the dumpster, for example), I have not once questioned that the Lord is with me. Many times these past two weeks, in the middle of all the chaos, His presence has come in waves. At times, I’ve been caught up in worship. Picture if you can, a sixty two year old man, standing in the dark of a cold basement, stopped in his tracks by the Holy Spirit. This trial, as great as it is, as painful as it is, has been a revelation of God’s love for me, and I can’t help but rejoice in it.
It’s as if the Lord is saying: “You think you know how much I love you? Well, you haven’t seen anything yet. Watch this!” Though I am still in the middle of it, with the Lord still working even as I am working, I can say with no reservations whatsoever that this trial has been blessing on top of blessing.
A note about work is in order here. Though He is the author of the blessing, though we receive it as an undeserved gift of grace, we have our part. We work each day to the uttermost, using all that we know and have to make something of what He’s given. He makes it possible, we make it actual. Yet all is from Him and for Him.
For several years, we have had a growing number of problems with the business of varying degrees of importance that we have largely been unable to solve in the building we were in. Not enough room for classes. No good place to store frame moulding. No reasonable way of organizing the space around production needs. Having to cut moulding and glass in the basement, which was inconvenient and sometimes impossible. Chronic problems with water in the basement that caused damage to supplies and equipment and a nagging problem with mildew. No studio space, which we needed in order to free a room at home for our granddaughter who will be moving in with us soon. Drafts around the front and back doors.
Apart from giving the problems to the Lord, we were in no position to solve most of them without violating our commitment to operating within our means. What I have since learned is that we had in effect been waiting on the Lord to solve them. We didn’t pray fervently, and apart from leaving them in His hands, we didn’t bring it up with Him at all.
Yet in this one seeming catastrophe, we find ourselves moving into a new location, where every single one of the problems we had given to Him are solved. My God doesn’t just answer prayer. He even reads the desires of our heart and moves heaven and earth to give them to us!
Oh! How greatly my God loves me (Psalms 40:1-3)!
This morning during worship, I had these thoughts in mind when the Lord told me that He will increase the revelation of His love for His people. Trials will increase both in frequency and intensity as His children become increasingly caught up in His love, until we are lost in Him, wrapped up in Him, until nothing that happens to us touches us ever again, no matter how severe.
This same revelation of His love will inform all that we do and bless everyone we serve. Love without fear, faith without wavering, abiding hope and joy. (Isaiah 64:4)
In closing, I exhort you to wait on the Lord. Rest in His presence, trust patiently in His timing, and wait on Him. After waiting, wait again. Then wait some more. Live your entire life waiting on Him. In the perfect time, He will reveal Himself. He will lift you up. He will reward your trust in Him beyond your wildest dreams. In waiting on Him, we decrease and He increases, until He is our all in all.
Anything less is not enough (Isaiah 40:28-31).